Dover Shores And Castaways–Why The Sales Disparity?


Castaways Lagging Behind Dover Shores in 2013

You may or may not have heard, but Orange County home prices are up 24% from a year ago this time. Interestingly, the vast majority of this gain took place within the past six months. Yet NO CASTAWAYS HOME can say it contributed to that increase this year. Why is that?

In 2012 there were nine sales in the Castaways, with an average sales price of $1,985,000. Two sales were over $2 Million, and both were Cape Andover addresses on the bluff. All interior properties traded under $2 Million. That level of trading represents a healthy market. This year, three listings hit the market and NONE OF THEM sold. One was withdrawn from the MLS and two others cancelled their listings. Yet in 2013 there have been ten sales in Dover Shores of over $2 Million, and most of those were non-view properties. By any measure, Dover Shores has been selling rapidly and posting some record sales prices. So why is Dover Shores moving and Castaways not, you ask?

I believe that agents have been properly selling the lifestyle of Dover Shores and emphasizing the larger lot sizes and yards, the variation in floor plans and architectural styles, and the freedom of expression you get with no HOA design rules. Also, there are well over 1,000 homes in the Dover Shores area compared with just 120 in Castaways. But Castaways homeowners know that their neighborhood and homes offer something unique as well–the added security of a 24-hour guard gate, great square footage homes with high volume ceilings and wonderfully functional layouts, and consistently attractive elevations with terrific curb appeal. Not to mention the views from the bluff and access to Bob Henry Park and the bike trail.

So what will it take to get some Castaways sales on the board for 2013 to keep pace with Dover Shores? The short of it comes down to pricing the home correctly, understanding what you are selling and communicating that effectively to prospective buyers, and making each interaction with buyer’s agents a positive one. Our market is changing rapidly toward one of greater equilibrium. Already average Days On Market (DOM) is increasing and interest rates have risen. Selling a home for top dollar will require sound decisions and hard work. This means your choice of real estate broker is more important than ever.

Call me if I can be of real estate assistance: 949.677.0111. Or email:

Historical Interest Rate Graph–Adjustable Mortgages vs. Fixed Rate


Interest rates have crept up in the past month, but still remain near all-time lows for many loan products. Lenders are becoming more aggressive in their variety of programs offered and credit requirements, so it remains an attractive time to be a buyer from a financing standpoint. That’s the easy part. Having the winning offer on a property with competition is the hard part. Choose an agent who has strong relationships with other listing agents, knows the local market, and can get you early access to available properties. –Grant Bixby



Bixby Residential Awards Three Scholarships at Newport Harbor Senior Awards Night


L to R: Grant Bixby with winners Tyler Carlin, Taylor Anderson, and Dana Siegel

If you haven’t heard about our local Newport Harbor High School journalism and media programs, you will soon. Matt Johnson’s journalism class through the english department is one of the most popular classes. Cori Ciok and Lisa Cermak’s film and digital media classes are full of the latest and best technology for creative minded scholars. But the students, it turns out, are the real stars.

Three years ago I created these scholarships because I’m passionate about the importance of good journalism and the positive effects it has on our society. Thoughtful reporting, striking imagery, and moving film urge media consumers to become involved in their community. As a result, our lives improve through this civic engagement. Each June I award three seniors who submit the best in print journalism, still photography, and film journalism.

This first student demonstrates a superb command of language and fashions well-reasoned arguments. I’m told she has amazingly persuasive powers over University admissions offices. The winner for Print Journalism with her entry No ID? No Problem!, DANA SIEGEL.

The next scholar understands that photography is not just about skill, but also being in the right place at the right time. The winner for Still Photography with her artistic image of a Laguna Beach rock formation and bird in flight, TAYLOR ANDERSON.

Last but not least, a student who is clearly and casually comfortable in front of and behind the lens, as well as in the editing bay. The winner for Film Journalism with his short titled The Battle of Costa Mesa, TYLER CARLIN.

Congratulations to all the winners. Enjoy your prize winnings of $1,000, and keep writing, shooting, and filming! Thank you.

–Grant Bixby

2013 Bixby Residential NHHS Media Scholarship–WINNER for Still Photography


This scholar understands that photography is not just about skill, but also being in the right place at the right time. The winner for Still Photography with her artistic image of a Laguna Beach rock formation and bird in flight, TAYLOR ANDERSON. Congratulations, Taylor! –Grant Bixby


“This photo was taken with a Canon 5d, Canon 50mm 1.4 EF Aperture 3.5, Shutter Speed 1/2500, ISO 640.

This photo was taken in the scenic city of Laguna Beach. As my photography teacher, cousin, and I walked along the beach, we followed a path that led to a stretch of extraordinary rocks each uniquely shaped by the waves themselves. In this particular photograph I captured a bird soaring over one of the rock structures, clearly enjoying his surroundings of land and sea. While reviewing my film from that day, this shot stopped me in my tracks. Something about the exact placement of the bird, rock formation, and overal. destination drew me in because of its once in a lifetime feeling. I decided to turn the photo black and white, adding texture to make it have more drama. What a fantastic day!” — Taylor Anderson

2013 Bixby Residential NHHS Media Scholarship–WINNER for Print Journalism


This student demonstrates a superb command of language and fashions well-reasoned arguments.  I’m told she has amazingly persuasive powers over University admissions offices.  The winner for Print Journalism with her entry “No ID?  No Problem!”, DANA SIEGEL.  Congratulations, Dana! — Grant Bixby

Dana Siegel

*Featured in the October 2012 issue of The Beacon

No ID? No Problem! 

Maybe it’s just me but…

Why is the issue of photo voter identification so controversial? You can’t go to an R-rated movie without showing your driver’s license at the box office. You can’t take the SAT or ACT exams without presenting two forms of matching identification. You can’t board an international flight without taking out your passport. You can’t attend school concerts, sporting events, or any of our dances without your photo identification card.  Our society has accepted and understands the necessity for proof of identity for all these activities, some of them relatively trivial. Why does so much controversy and argument swirl around the simple requirement that every voter show verification of identity before exercising his or her constitutional right to cast a ballot?

It has become one of this election season’s political footballs.  It seems like common sense to have to show proof of citizenship to be able to vote. However, only twenty-seven out of fifty states require ID, and out of those twenty-seven only four insist that the ID contain a picture.  California demands neither photo nor non-photo identification.  Our state, which has the most Electoral College votes, 20 more than the next highest state, does not carefully monitor who is voting in elections. Mighty California, the most populous and arguably the most influential state in the union has almost no oversight and little control at the ballot box. What could possibly be wrong with that? Ah, yes, the potential for numerous variations of voter fraud.

Fraudulent voting is a long-standing, time honored, American tradition.  It’s well known that it occurred with regularity during the Tammany Hall controlled 19th century. In the Kennedy-Nixon 1960 Presidential Election there was a suspicion that the ballot boxes were stuffed in Illinois at the direction of mob controlled union interest groups. Some scholars believe that Kennedy may have won the Presidential votes he needed in that remarkably close election as a result of fraudulent votes.

Everything from casting votes in the name of deceased citizens, voting under the age of eighteen, non-citizens participating in elections, and multiple voting by individuals takes place as a result of inefficient monitoring and poor regulation.  It’s difficult to judge the extent of voter fraud problems because of the difficulty in tracking it.  If done ‘right’, it’s undetectable. As a result the statistics for fraudulent voting are almost certainly inaccurately low.  All of this occurs as a result of unacceptably lax voting ID requirements.

Americans should proudly carry photo identification as a symbol of their right to vote and their endorsement of an honest and fair election process. The argument that requiring photo ID would somehow disadvantage the poor and uneducated minorities is a straw man. It is not comparable, in any way, to the illegal “literacy tests” of the 1950s. 21st century technology would make proper identification easily accessible and available to anyone legally entering a voting booth for local, state, and federal elections. A federal law mandating that requirement should be passed and enacted now. It’s one thing to sneak into an R-rated movie, it’s an entirely different and much more serious offense to illegally participate in an American election.

Orange County Market Update (Or, Why you should list your home NOW)


Just pick up a newspaper and you’ll find an article talking about the shockingly quick rebound in Orange County home prices over the past year.  Many people are wondering if we are in a bubble and if the rates of appreciation are sustainable.  I’m one of those people.  So let’s review…

Where was OC real estate at this time in 2012?

  • Our tepid economic recovery helped keep interest rates at all time lows and home builders on the sidelines.
  • Approximately 54% of Orange County active listings were considered distressed.
  • Nearly 30% of OC home owners had negative equity (i.e. their homes were worth less than what they paid).
  • Listed property inventory in OC plummeted to approximately 3,100 homes at year-end.

What’s happening today?

  • Homes sell with multiple offers, close to or above list price, and often within the first few days on the market.
  • Less than 4% of active listings are considered distressed.
  • Listed inventory is up 25%, but overall supply is considered low.
  • Home builders are back in the market seeking good land.
  • The Federal Government is discussing slowing their policy of buying bonds to increase the money supply—quantitative easing–which helps keep interest rates low.
  • Average sales prices have risen to 2006-2007 levels and even set records in select neighborhoods.

What could happen soon?

  • A strong jobs report and growing consumer confidence could cause the Fed to take action and slow or stop their infusion of capital into the markets.
  • Interest rates rise which hampers home affordability for buyers.
  • Recent high sales prices cause sellers to list their properties hoping to achieve similar gains.
  • More homes for sale give buyers more choices and leverage over sellers.
  • The rise in prices tapers off or even reverses as our frenzied market establishes some equilibrium between buyers and sellers.

While I don’t have a crystal ball, nor do I believe we will have a double dip recession, I do believe a settling OC real estate market is inevitable.  NOW is the time for a seller to list to stand the best chance of maximizing value.